June 08, 2016
Cameron Rupp didn't even need the radar gun.
"It wasn't what it normally is," the Phillies catcher said of right-handed starter Vince Velasquez' fastball.
When Rupp looked up at the scoreboard, his suspicions were confirmed. After throwing just two pitches at 86 and 87 miles per hour, close to 10 mph lower than his average fastball velocity, Velasquez exited Wednesday's 8-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs with what the Phillies are calling “right biceps soreness.”
On his second and final pitch, Dexter Fowler flew out to deep right field:
didn't wince or anything, just really low velocity pic.twitter.com/MbYfuhbxmd— chris jones¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) June 8, 2016
"I went out and I didn't want to let him throw another pitch," Rupp said. "There was no reason, and I think they felt the same way."
The early exit didn't throw the Phillies completely off guard, as Velasquez mentioned a possible twinge to pitching coach Bob McClure toward the end of his pregame warmup pitches in the bullpen. Velasquez went through his warmup tosses on the mound, which drew the concern of Rupp. After two pitches, he was removed from the game.
"We saw the velocity and said, 'No, that's not worth it,'" McClure said.
The Phillies went on to lose big to the Cubs, but the long-term concern is for Velasquez, a major part of the Phils’ promising start. Even though the 24-year-old fireballer struggled in May, he came into the game with a 5-2 record, 3.65 ERA, and 73 strikeouts in 63.1 innings pitched. The highlight of his season was a 16-strikeout shutout in April against San Diego.
And while the Phillies will wait until tomorrow to re-evaluate Velasquez (possibly with an MRI), he seems to think this won't be a major setback. As manager Pete Mackanin mentioned, the biceps are in between the two trouble spots, the shoulder and elbow.
"I'm not concerned at all," Velasquez said. "I've been in this situation before, so I know how to stay positive all the way through."
Velasquez, who was acquired from the Houston Astros last offseason in the Ken Giles trade, missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. It has been reported that the pitcher's medicals played a part in delaying (and eventually altering) that deal.
Looking back on the injury, Velasquez said that he felt this injury was more in the biceps area than his elbow. He also said that today was the first time he had any recent trouble with the arm, putting to rest any speculation that he was injured in his last few starts.
"It's just one of those things I guess you got to deal with, stay positive, and do whatever I got to do to come back," Velasquez said.
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